Why Hi-Tech Pharmacal Shares Face-Planted

Is this meaningful or just another movement?

Sean Williams
Sean Williams
Sep 5, 2012 at 12:00AM

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of over-the-counter drug maker Hi-Tech Pharmacal (Nasdaq: HITK) fell as much as 17% earlier in the trading session after reporting disappointing first-quarter earnings results.

So what: You know the old story of not being able to hit the broad side of a barn? That adequately sums up Hi-Tech's first-quarter results. For the quarter, Hi-Tech's revenue dipped by 7% to $52 million with the company reporting a steep 58% drop in net income to $0.44. Wall Street had been looking for revenue north of $57 million and a profit of $0.68! Hi-Tech had a trio of excuses for the shortfall, including the removal of antihistamine, Lodrane, from market shelves, the introduction of another version of generic Flonase, an allergic rhinitis treatment produced by GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK), from an Indian competitor, and a sales decline in the generic version of Merck's (NYSE: MRK) glaucoma treatment, Dorzolamide. Fluticasone Propionate (generic Flonase) had been one of Hi-Tech's steadiest growth drivers.

Now what: Hold onto something, because it actually gets worse. Not only is it having trouble with increased competition and pricing decreases in some of its key generic drugs, but its operating expenses rose to 51% of total sales from 41% in the year-ago quarter. Hi-Tech blamed this on those aforementioned lowered drug costs.

What a mess! Management tried their best to spin this around as a company with a robust pipeline, but I'm just not seeing it if their key products are already heading in the wrong direction. On paper Hi-Tech is relatively inexpensive at 10 times forward earnings, but after today's miscues, I'd hardly call it an intriguing value play.

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